Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Refresh the Howling Wolves in Digital Moonlight (blog)

I did something today that I haven't done in awhile, I picked up a Rolling Stone magazine. The fact that I bought a print copy of something itself is enough to warrant a blog post but that's not what I want to talk about. Inside this issue was an article called "The Girl Who Played With Fire". The article was about a girl who has an internet persona named Kiki Kannibal. It goes into detail about her rise to internet celebritydom and the horrific backlash she received as a result. This got me thinking about cyber bullying and the internet in general.
I myself have not viewed anything that Kiki Kannibal has done, nor do I intend to. Just simply the description the article gives doesn't really invoke any interest from me. But it sounds like typical vlog type things wrapped up in a fashionable candy shell. For this, Kiki has dealt with people who send death threats, pedophiles, stalkers, animal killers, amoral internet tycoons and essentially the entire rogues gallery of less than stellar human beings. It really is a sad story that broke my heart a little bit and left me wondering why does this stuff happen on the internet so much?
Unfortunately I really don't know for certain but I'm going to attempt to come to some sort of conclusion at the end of these thoughts.
I first started using the internet at home around 1999-2000. At this time I was 12 years old. It was a strange time indeed. The internet was still fairly young, most of its users were fairly young and it was chaos. The term "The Wild West" has often been associated to the earlier days of the internet and it's a surprisingly apt term (well, assuming you're thinking of the romanticized version of the wild west). There were little to no rules. You could essentially do whatever the hell you wanted and it'd be okay. Because at that time the internet just didn't matter. It was a fun little thing but it certainly didn't bleed into the real world. This provided a playground for everyone who wanted to release their personality flaws, pent up rage and frustration that they normally could not express in normal society. I unfortunately was one of them.
I remember pretty well some of the things I said on chatrooms. Hurtful, ignorant and at times downright evil things. I even remember being proud at times of the messed up things I'd come up with. That pride has faded away into guilt and sorriness but that doesn't change the fact that I participated in cyber bullying. Now I consider myself a fairly level headed and well rounded individual. So I have to ask myself, what drove me to be so mean? Like I said previously that the internet was (and still is) a place to be anonymous and release everything you could. But that's not the whole story. There's also this human compulsion to either want to be better or more popular than everyone else or if you can't, attack the one who is better and more popular than you. Both of these motivations seem to lead to the same course of action, bullying. You either insult, threaten or straight up act in a way to establish dominance or remove dominance from someone else. That's just how it works it seems.
This in itself is horrible. It's not how civilized humans should act. But it can get worse. We've all seen the special reports about how internet celebrities eventually get stalkers finding out who they are and coming into their life away from the internet. Let me be clear, I haven't done this. But there are many who have. At some point in their daily routine they lose track of their life. They forget that they're releasing their frustrations with life online because they can't in physical society and they let it all seep out into every facet of their life.
The internet isn't the same place as it was back then. But the same sort of people that made it wild back then are still around. Except now, the internet is almost a vital part of many peoples lives, so the access these tormentors have has increased. It's just masked well behind archaic rule sheets and promises to act properly.
So I suppose that's my conclusion. This sort of torment of other people exists because people in general want to let their anger be known. They want their dominance. They want their popularity and to get it someone has to be hurt in their minds. Then some are not satisfied with the torment they deliver via screens and broadband connections they need those things in person.
Also, I want to apologize to anyone I may have hurt with my own cyber bullying, I know this apology is useless considering the people I may have hurt probably don't read my blog, but it's an attempt. Also I want to wish Kiki Kannibal good luck with her continued presence on the internet and the sincerest hopes that the torment she received stops. That goes for anyone else who has dealt with the things she has.

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